Resolved iPad: Cellular v. Tethering?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Hrothgar, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. Hrothgar macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    New York
    I'm trying to decide if I need to purchase an iPad with cellular capabilities.
    My current iPad (1st Gen) has cellular, but I only activate the plan if I'm taveling for a long time. Otherwise, I just use wifi.

    So, if I can get a new iPad and tether that to my iPhone, I'm hoping to get by with a wifi-only iPad. My cellphone plan supports tethering and cost extra cell data is not really an issue.

    Is tethering generally considered an adequate substitute to a direct cellular connection? Is there any other reason that I might need a cellular connection?
  2. dcharleyultra macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2013
    If it's like my iPad 4, you would need cellular for GPS.
  3. urda Suspended


    Jun 15, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I'm in the same boat, but I think here's a few good selling points that helped push me into the cellular camp:

    • You get GPS on the Device
    • The new Apple SIM will let you just move around carriers as needed
    • (I Think) You can get a T Mobile 200MB data plan, and that should be free.

    My previous iPad was Wifi only, but I am SERIOUSLY thinking I'll be getting the iPad Air 2 with Cellular tonight.
  4. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    New York
    I just hate the idea of paying over $700 for a device that will likely be superseded if not obsolete in 2 or 3 years. And 16 gb seems too small for anything other than an "adjunct" device for students/employees to borrow now and then. So Apple doesn't offer 32 gb to force people to pay more for 64gb data, even though many (like me) will never need that much.

    And I still haven't found anything to do on the iPad other than reading stuff and surfing the web -- on the odd occasions that I don't have my laptop handy.I wish I could figure out what everyone does with these.
  5. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    I play XCom, Infinity Blade III, and Tower Madness.

    A lot.
  6. donnaw macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2011
    Austin TX
    1). So you have an iPad 1,
    2). want to upgrade, but
    3). can't figure out what an iPad is for except reading and web surfing
    4). Yet 16gb isn't enough storage?

    Sorry, but if you truly don't do anything excep read an surf why do you need more than 16 gb? And fyi, if I remember correctly, the 64 gb cost the same as the 32 cost last year.

    I alway buy the cellular version but I travel a lot and tethering really hits my battery. Plus there have been a few times where I lost electricity at home (usually during a thunderstorm) and so no wifi. Being able to still see weather and radar is very helpful.

    But I can see where folks who don't take their ipad out much would not need anything but wifi. If done on an infrequent basis, I would just tether too.
  7. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    As far as I'm concerned, the perk of owning both an iPhone and an iPad is the seamless tethering. If you need the GPS functionality then you have no choice but to get the cellular model, but otherwise, get the wifi. It's not just that Apple made it a bit easier to tether with iOS 8; one of the best-kept secrets seems to be that people don't realize you can tether over Bluetooth. This has very little impact to the batteries of the iPad and iPhone (compared with the default wifi tether) and the connection is maintained until one device either goes out of range or has its Bluetooth shut off. I initiate the Bluetooth connection in the morning and then go throughout the day without touching my phone or any connection settings again - my iPad might as well be a cellular model at that point.

    One could argue that Bluetooth won't let you access the full LTE speeds, which is true; the theoretical maximum transfer rate of Bluetooth is around 24 Mbps (with real-world tests showing closer to 15 Mbps), while LTE is now up to what... 150 Mbps? Yet for web browsing and internet applications I've never felt that my iPad was slow while tethering.
  8. flur macrumors 68020


    Nov 12, 2012
    I write and edit novels on mine. :)
  9. eastamherstbias macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2012
    Honestly, this is the first year I won't be buying the cell version. Every year I am just paranoid about not having the cell version but I am just going to tether to my phone this time. In my case I really don't use maps on my iPad. I can just use my phone and I can't justify the added cost and then paying $12 a month on top of that at ATT.
  10. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2005
    Got to try that next time I'm on a road trip. Wifi tethering eats the battery.
  11. ReallyNiceGuy macrumors member


    Sep 29, 2014
    Vancouver, BC
    How do you tether over bluetooth?
  12. doxielover macrumors 6502a


    Apr 12, 2011
    I was just going to ask the samething. LOL and don't you have to have tethering through your carrier?
  13. samiznaetekto macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    Get a hotspot, cancel postpaid account on your phone, go prepaid (voice/text only, no data). BAM! You have a "surrounding" WiFi that's always with you and all of your devices can connect to without the annoyances of the tethering. Hotspot plan + perpaid voice plan is cheaper than the postpaid scam, and you save by buying non-cellular versions of iPads. And you can buy really cheap tablets or phones (Android/Windows) with GPS for dedicated use, e.g. car navigation.

    Free yourself from all this "smartphone"/contract ripoff.
  14. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    The first step only needed to be performed once per device, and iOS 8 seems to have already performed it by itself for devices in the same iCloud account: perform an initial pairing so that the devices will always appear on each other's lists. In case you're running iOS 7 or don't have the devices already listed, to do this, go to Settings > Bluetooth on both devices. It should take a few seconds, but eventually you'll see the devices listing each other as discovered devices. From one of your two devices (it shouldn't matter which), tap the device to pair. You may be asked to type in a randomly generated 4-digit code on the other device to verify security. And then, you're done!

    The rest is easy, and describes what you'll do whenever you want to start tethering. With Personal Hotspot enabled on your phone (it's always enabled on mine, so I never need to touch it), go to Settings > Bluetooth on your iPad and tap on your phone's name. In 2-4 seconds you'll see the tethering icon in the upper left corner of your screen. Congratulations - you now have a long-lasting tether.

    Some notes: like wifi tethering, this still requires that you have a tethering plan from your carrier. Unlike wifi tethering, the connection will not automatically shut off. To easily break the tether, use the control panel (swipe up from the bottom of the screen) on either device to briefly shut off Bluetooth; even powering it off for a second or two before re enabling it is enough to break the connection. Lastly, with iOS 8 I've had one instance where tethering stopped on its own (compared to dozens of days with no issues), and occasionally I can't initiate the Bluetooth pairing from one of the two devices and need to do it from the other. I'm guessing those are bugs within iOS 8 that will be ironed out, but I figure to mention them here so that nobody is surprised if they encounter them as well.

    Enjoy, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
  15. respectabilia macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2010
    I went trough this whole decision process last year and ended up getting the retina iPad mini cellular.

    However, on my next upgrade of the iPad i don't plan on getting the cellular:

    - my iPhone has an unlimited data plan. Buying more data for the iPad - and for comfortable use, the iPad needs a lot of data - was not value for money.
    - I found that if I was carrying an iPad around I usually had a bag on me. So I could keep a battery pack on me too and plug my iPhone in and use it as a personal hotspot.

    But time round however, I decided to also get a 6 Plus to complement a (planned ) future iPad Air:

    - for most occasions that I could use the phone for browsing on the go I would just use the phone instead of pulling out the iPad. Eg on the bus, a few stops to go, you start to quickly check something in the phone and it just easily turns into a 10 minute browsing session as opposed to deciding to put your phone away and pull out the iPad. So if my primary device for browsing on the go would be my phone I may as well use the larger phone with better battery life and screen.
    - the iPhone as a tether without the battery pack uses juice so quickly. I would avoid tethering as a result and just use the iPhone by itself instead. It's not always convenient to pull out the battery pack and attach it to the phone (eg in a waiting room) so again, I would just use the iPhone instead. With the 6 plus I'm planning to use it for those time I need a tether without a battery pack due to its better battery life. Should allow me to use the iPad in more situations when out and about.
  16. Eileen89 macrumors 65816

    Aug 12, 2014
    I purchased the cellular version since I can't tether with my AT&T unlimited data plan anyway.

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